Róisín Murphy appeared on stage at Dublin’s College Park in early July in an impossible purple and yellow jumpsuit with rings sewn around the body. In the following weeks, following her on social networks, we have seen the former leader of Moloko dressed in a King Kong coat, with her head inserted in a vagina-shaped hat and singing in Paris with a trench coat with XXL shoulder pads. Performances that add up to a career spanning almost three decades –his first album with Moloko, Do You Like My Tight Sweater?, is from 1995– that turn his professional life into an unconventional proposal about what it means to get on stage.
“I like to talk about sex that takes place in the brain, rather than in the erogenous zones.”
To remember are those explosive statements in the Daily Mail in the summer of 2009, where she accused Lady Gaga of copying her, and a lethal tweet, almost 10 years later, when a fan on Twitter asked why Overpowered, her 2008 album , it didn’t make her as big as Lady Gaga: “Overpowered made Gaga as big as Gaga,” Murphy replied.
Very few will deny that Murphy is a diva. The thing is that she is a rare diva. She doesn’t fit in with the bodily empowerment of Latin and trap stars that we see everywhere today. “The concept of Latin divas is too feminine for me, because when I act I don’t even have a gender in my head. Also, I think I have masculine body language. I would like to be a diva, but I think that for that you have to be more graceful than me,” she says by phone from London. Without fear of ridicule (or, precisely, making ridicule of her identity and her seduction a space to reflect), in songs like ‘Exploitation’ or ‘Orally Fixed’, Murphy deals with sex without sexualizing himself. “I like to talk about sex taking place in the brain, rather than in the erogenous zones. I have never been a product and there has been no plan behind what I do. I have always felt very free. I think it all comes from the ‘do it yourself’ concept that I learned from the 90s underground dance scene in the UK. And there is a duality in me: I am a tough and strong woman, but I also have the ability to lose control… and give up”, she reflects, using the same verb, surrender, with which the first verse of ‘Sing It Back ended. ‘, his first worldwide hit, an already classic song that he wrote together with Mark Brydon in 1998 and which, thanks to the house-key remix of Boris Musical Mix, launched Moloko to stardom. “When you’re ready, I’ll give up / Take me and do what you want,” she sang.
“Now I am more pleasant and patient with producers. I’ve never said this before!”
Murphy sees his career as a conceptual and profound artistic project (his references are Cindy Sherman or Jean Paul Gaultier) in which the music changes depending on his collaborators. With Mark Brydon, whom she met one night in a club in Sheffield as a teenager with no musical training, she transformed the smooth rhythm of trip hop into something fluid and sensual. With Matthew Herbert she delved into the gap between jazz and pop. Her new ally is DJ Koze, a German producer with great skill when it comes to mixing dance genres. “He was in Germany and I was between Ibiza and London, so we recorded remotely. Every time he works with a producer he changes the way he makes songs. What is my role? In addition to writing the lyrics and melodies, and recording the vocals, I have to say harsh things and act bad. Born from believing that something can be better. “It’s like an internal faith,” she is sincere, explaining that in the future she may be encouraged to produce.
Hit Parade, his sixth solo album since the Moloko split, is like a catalog of just about every dance-focused electronic sound of the last few decades. The songs travel seductively across time and genres. ‘CooCool’ grows on a synthesizer and a drum machine where Murphy’s falsetto and a beautiful sampler of an old soul song stand out. ‘Free Will’ recalls the most splendid Todd Terje and the start of ‘The Universe’ subverts the electronic folk of The Durruti Collum. Then there’s ‘You Know’, perhaps the best song on the album, where a dry and cutting electronic sequence accompanies evocative layers of voices. And there is something of Balearic, that house born in the eighties in Ibiza, in ‘Hurts so bad’. Precisely, the Spanish island is the place where Murphy lives with his partner, music producer Sebastiano Properzi, and his two teenage children.
“I prepared this album with an open mind and that’s why there are colors in these songs that I had never played with before. The album is influenced by the things I felt during the pandemic. I was in a beautiful place, Ibiza, and I saw what was happening from a distance. But there was white noise in the background reminding me of that dark event,” says Murphy, who lost his father not too long ago, while he was finishing this job. It is an album that points to the transience of beauty and love, as he reaffirms in verses like “The old magic is back / defies reason / embraces your inner child.”
Where he is optimistic is regarding the state of health of current music. For her, everything is an evolution for the better, thanks to technology and the democratization it has caused. “Music is the best moment I have ever experienced. There is an incredible amount of music to listen to. Years ago, you depended on others to make yourself known. Now you can create your own path,” says Murphy. Regarding her personal evolution, she assures that she has also changed. “Now I am more pleasant and patient with producers. I’ve never said this before!” she finishes with a laugh, perhaps aware that she has gifted us with another Daily Mail exclusive.
Roisin Murphy. ‘Hit Parade’. Ninja Tune/Pias
You can follow BABELIA on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits
#Róisín #Murphy #singer #diva #masculine #body #language